Monday, March 30, 2009

'Modern Love' But Same Old Perspective

Via Jezebel, this Modern Love column in the New York Times really shows how unequal we really view children and pregnancy. The woman writing the column describes and experience she had with her partner years ago:
I chose to end the pregnancy for what I thought were good reasons, chief among them being my boyfriend’s emphatic unwillingness to be a father. Although his initial reaction to the news was muted, he came out strongly against it once I announced my desire to keep the baby.

Months earlier he’d referred to me as his love, “ma femme,” he called me. But lately things had been dicey.

I argued weakly with him that we could make it work. Without him, I didn’t see a way forward. I had no savings, and no family around to support or encourage me. I was terrified, and not just about being a single parent. I was afraid that with a baby I’d be off the market for good. And I wanted a husband as much as I wanted a baby, if not more. Maybe I knew instinctively that I wasn’t cut out for single parenthood. And I wanted what I wanted: husband, home, baby, in that order.

Even before the pregnancy test I’d been hinting at commitment, and he’d been making evasive noises. We were in “turnaround,” as they say in show business. From the moment I told him I was pregnant, it became my “problem,” as in “What are you going to do about the problem?”
In this scenario, the man simply is unwilling to take on any of the burden of sexual activity. His partner became pregnant, and he asked her what she was going to do about the "problem."

It's true that men are still broadly financially responsible for child support, whether they plan the pregnancy or not, but it's often a long uphill legal battle that can destroy any amicable post-relationship feelings. Becoming a single mother is scary, and not every woman feels like she can do it. That puts women like the author of this Modern Love column in the difficult position of trying to persuade her partner into fatherhood.

It's not an easy battle, but if we can start thinking about the burden of birth control, pregnancy, and abortion as not just issues for women to deal with but also for men to consider when they have sex with their partners, fewer women would be put in difficult positions like this. It's a difficult culture to change, since such things have always been considered the burden of women. Perhaps once male birth control becomes more mainstream, men will begin to think about this differently.

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